Board room scene with woman in focus

Women need to brag more!

Women need to be more direct!

Women need to be careful of coming across as bitchy!

The list could go on and on about how we need to change our communication style in order to get ahead in the business world. There are a plethora of articles and blog posts on this topic. And here are just a few of them:

Why Women Need to Brag More

The Sad Truth about Assertive Women

There is even an app called Just Not Sorry, that underlines self-minimizing or demeaning words in phrases, such as, “I’m no expert” or “actually,” in your email messages.

Much of the advice offered to women is contradictory. For example, women are advised to “be more direct, but not too blunt, because they might be perceived as aggressive.” I just read Why Aggressive Women Can’t Win at Work,. This article warns women of the double standard used to judge acceptable female boardroom behavior. The mixed messages can make your head spin and make you doubt yourself.

Are we really able to change the way we communicate? Sure, we can become more aware of the way in which we communicate and make some tweaks. But I don’t think, at this stage in our careers, we can radically change the way we speak, write, and convey our messages. In the same way, I don’t think men can, or should change the way they communicate either. If we do, we run the risk of coming across as unauthentic. Moreover, it would be exhausting!

Deborah Tannen, author of You Just Don’t Understand, notes these differences between men and women:

  • Women want to feel connected to others in conversation
  • Men desire to give information while remaining independent of the other party
  • Women try to avoid the appearance of superiority
  • Men are more comfortable telling others what to do and appearing superior
  • Women want to reach consensus and consult with others before deciding
  • Men want to get straight to the bottom line and choose without consulting others
  • Women communicate to build relationships
  • Men communicate to give information, solve problems and show expertise

Why can’t we just accept that the way women communicate is fine; that the way we communicate acts as a balance for the way men communicate? It’s the yin and yang of the male/female relationship. I believe we complement each other.

Let’s embrace our differences and value them. We need all communication styles and voices at the table.


Julie Janckila is Director of Corporate Partnerships for the Network of Executive Women. She concentrates on building and maintaining relationships with corporations who share the goal of growing stronger businesses and more productive workplaces that leverage talented women. Learn more at Follow Julie on LinkedIn at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

clear formSubmit